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Tamoxifen Reduces the Risk of Recurrence or Developing Some Breast Cancers

It is well known that women, who have breast cancer with certain biology, will benefit after their breast cancer surgery by taking Tamoxifen, or a similar substance, for a number of years.  However, there are other uses for this medication besides treating a woman who has established breast cancer for the prevention of recurrence.

For women diagnosed with LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma In Situ), being placed on Tamoxifen after a breast biopsy, has reduced their risk of developing a new breast cancer.  LCIS is part of a spectrum of breast diseases, also known as Intraductal Neoplasia, in which abnormal breast cells are found in the breast ducts, or lobules.  This includes Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS), Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia (ADH), and Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia (ALH).  These conditions significantly increase a women’s risk of developing invasive breast cancer.

Tamoxifen has been shown to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 50% in women with LCIS, ADH, and ALH.  The side effects were limited and thus Tamoxifen provides a valid treatment option for women with LCIS, ADH, and ALH.  Essentially, it reduces the risk by half.  It takes the woman in high risk for developing breast cancer, because of these abnormal cells, to a normal risk level similar to the rest of the population.  In addition to this treatment being important for prevention in high risk women, women with intraductal neoplasia as mentioned above, it is also important for a woman with a strong family history of breast cancer.

Regarding side effects, women taking Tamoxifen had minimally more side effects than women who were taking the placebo.  Women taking Tamoxifen did report more hot flashes than women who were taking the placebo, but this difference was so small, it was not statistically significant, which means it could have been due to chance rather than because of the treatment and medication.

If you have been diagnosed with Lobular Carcinoma In Situ, Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia, or Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia, and are weighing treatments options after a biopsy, you may want to ask your doctor about whether daily Tamoxifen would be a good fit for you.  For women with a high risk of developing breast cancer, either because of benign but abnormal cells on a breast biopsy, or with a strong family history, this pill taken daily for five years is used to achieve this large reduction in risk.


Public Service Information taken from written studies and published data.

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